Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road (2008)
★★★★ / ★★★★

Even though “Revolutionary Road” is set in the 1950’s, it’s still very relevant today. Directed with such skill by Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition,” “Jarhead”), he tells the story in a non-linear fashion and it works because the audiences are asked to immediately contrast how the couple was like when they met and after they’ve been together for a couple of years. I will be surprised if Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Kate Winslet do not get nominated for an Oscar. Even though I don’t think this is DiCaprio’s best performance, I think this is one of his most mature and he deserves to be recognized. It’s about time he wins an Oscar for consistently giving us characters that are both memorable and worth caring for. Winslet is magnificient in every movie I see her in and this one is no exception. To be honest, the reason why I loved this film is that I got to watch these two extremely talented actors (with great chemistry) scream at each other for long periods of time; they gave me some sick satisfaction because they are so good at it. I keep reading complaints from reviewers about the selfishness of the characters and how that quality makes it hard to relate to them. I cannot disagree more–I think selfishness is what makes them relatable because that’s a quality that everyone has whether he or she realizes it or not. And it’s not like the characters are selfish for no apparent reason: DiCaprio thinks his job is pointless but won’t quit because he knows that he has to provide for his family, while Winslet is desperate to move out of suburbia because she’s dying on the inside and craving for some excitement. All that frustration is not expressed in a healthy way so they lie, play mind games with each other, and become selfish because they couldn’t get what they need from one another. I thought the film was raw and realistic; at some points during the film, it made me reflect on my childhood when my parents would fight in front of me. Mendes managed to catch the awkwardness, shame and crushed egos after a big argument. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in the film was the morning after a big fight and how Winslet and DiCaprio pretended like nothing happened. I thought that scene was haunting because that’s when I realized that they act more like strangers when they’re peaceful with each other. In some ways, even though the tone of the film is sad and depressing, there are pockets of darkly comedic moments. I don’t know what it is about me but I always find something amusing when it comes to depressed rich people living in suburbia. This is the kind of movie that I would recommend to couples everywhere who think that they’ve fallen in love after only going out for a short amount of time. In essence, this is a cautionary tale for people who believe in love at first sight.

3 replies »

  1. For some reason, I love pretty much all movies in which American middle class families tear themselves apart. Many of these movies (‘American Beauty’, ‘Imaginary Heroes’, ‘The Squid and the Whale’, ‘The Ice Storm’) are really great at unveiling how the internal battles between ego, responsibility and ‘respectability’ can make people do bad things to each other. This movie thus enters a fine tradition in contemporart American cinema, and it’s a great addition. We now know that both Winslet and DiCaprio were snubbed (although Winslet was nominated for ‘The Reader’) for the Oscars, and so was Mendes. Anyone who’s able to extract such fine performances from his actors deserves a nod. As do – of course! – the actors themselves.

  2. UGH. Yah! Thank you for bringing that up! I almost forgot to make a note of that somewhere. I was so mad when I was reading the Oscar nominations. I really, really, really thought that Winslet would be nominated for “Revolutionary Road.” Her performance blows the other nominated actresses out of the water. Still, I’m hoping that she’ll win the nomination for “The Reader.” I loved both but I think “Revolutionary Road” is stronger. If I did letter ratings, I would’ve given “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader,” A and A-, respectively.

    As for Leo, again, I really thought that this was his year. I don’t think Richard Jenkins should’ve been on that list. I liked the film but I don’t think his performance is Best Actor material. =\ Oh well, maybe next year.

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